Teaching Dental Care to Preschoolers

I am a pre-school teacher. A teacher’s job is never done. Even if the school-year is over, I am using whatever spare time I have in coming up with better and more creative ways to impart knowledge to my preschoolers when classes open again. May I ask if you have some interesting ideas on how to teach children the value of dental care? – Melissa R.

Thank you very much for your letter. Indeed, there are countless ways to make kids interested in caring for their teeth. The trick is how to make the teaching process not only enjoyable but dramatic enough to have life-long impact.

For example, after teaching them to brush their teeth at least twice a day to keep them healthy, it will certainly be helpful if you wrap up the lesson by having them recite the following rhyme: ”I have a little toothbrush, I hold it very tight. I brush my teeth each morning, and then again at night.”

Hand motions or finger plays add more drama. You may even improvise a sing-song tune to really maximize impact.

You may also want to use disclosing tablets to talk about plaque. Disclosing tablets are made of vegetable dye and they make plaque-ridden areas turn red. They can be found at most drug or grocery stores by the pharmacy. Have the children brush their teeth as they normally do. When they are finished, have them chew on a disclosing tablet. Now, show them their teeth in a mirror and explain that the areas that have turned red still have plaque on them and need to be brushed better to be really clean.

Now, after teaching a lesson about plaque and explaining that it makes teeth appear yellow, begin the teeth brushing activity. Give each child yellow construction paper with the shape of a large tooth. Then, with white paint and a paintbrush, have them “brush” their paper tooth. Explain that they can clean the plaque or “yellow” off of their teeth with fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush twice a day.

Or you may do this. For each of your preschool students, boil an egg in water with a tea bag until hardboiled. The eggs would be stained brown. While the eggs dry and cool, teach children about stains on teeth and how they can be cleaned with fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes and the proper technique. Give each child a toothbrush with a little toothpaste and one stained egg. Demonstrate how the stain can be removed with a good tooth brushing. The kids will be amazed and it will encourage good oral hygiene.

Also, aside from teaching the proper way to brush one’s teeth, stress the fact that for tooth brushing to really be effective, the recommended amount of time is two to three minutes.

Of course, another very essential lesson is to familiarize the kids to the dentist and the dental clinic. If your school is near, perhaps, we can schedule a trip to any of our Dental Focus clinics?

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